18 December 2018

Uganda: Donors Demand Trial of Refugee Fraud Suspects

Kampala — Donors have demanded prosecution of officials who misused refugee funds.

The call for prosecution of the suspects was communicated in a joint statement issued on December 14, by heads of mission of Austria, Belgium, Denmark, the European Union Delegation, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Republic of Korea, Sweden, the UK and USA.

The donors said those responsible for abuse of the funds and inflation of refugee numbers should be held accountable.

"The common objective of the Government of Uganda, donors, and UN agencies is to continue to cooperate to bring those suspected of wrongdoings to face their responsibility in court so as to fully restore confidence in the international humanitarian response system in Uganda," the donors' statement reads in part.

Investigations

A joint investigation by the Uganda government and UN agencies discovered more than 300,000 ghost refugees in the country's register. Only 1.1m refugees have been verified and documented from the inflated 1.4 million.

Uganda has been receiving refugees from conflict-torn countries in the Great Lakes Region such as Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Somalia and South Sudan.

The donors said the recommendations in the audit by the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services of United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Uganda from July 2016 through December 2017 should be swiftly implemented.

"These findings provide key elements and details to guide and focus the actions of the UNHCR and of the Ugandan Government to implement swiftly the recommendations made by the audit report and to complete all investigations on corruption and misconduct as well as on the alleged sexual exploitation and abuse on refugees," the donors' statement reads.

Recommendation

The UN audit recommended that the government should recover the funds, strengthen controls of the UNHRC to stop further mismanagement and also evaluate how UN cooperates with Uganda government in execution of refugee projects.

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